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Cluster 2 - Biblical Exegesis, Religious Literature and History from Antiquity to Modern Times

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The researchers here are currently working on Christianity from its origins to the modern era from various perspectives (exegetical, historical, literary, philosophical, doctrinal) in an interdisciplinary perspective.

Several members of this cluster are working on edition, translation and commentaries on major sources, not only in Latin and Greek, but also in Coptic and Ethiopian. These works are published in well-known French and foreign collections, such as the "Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina/Series Graeca", and "Series Apocryphorum" (Brepols), the "Sources Chrétiennes" (Éditions du Cerf), the "Budé" collection (Les Belles Lettres), and the "Bibliothèque augustinienne", internationally recognized collection (CEP).

4 axis :
 Exegesis and reception of the Bible in Late Antiquity and medieval period.
 Augustine of Hippo and his posterity.
 Controversies and history of theology.
 Literary practices and religious facts.



| Seminar on the History of Latin and Greek Christian Exegesis

Comparing the Bible’s interpretations of Latin and Greek authors was the goal of two seminars in 2016-2019 on the patristic exegesis of the Epistle to the Galatians and of Christ’s Apparition after the Resurrection. The point is that these texts are at the heart of many controversies. From 2018 onwards, the seminar is focusing on the Christian interpretation of the Book of Isaiah.

| Editions of exegetical texts, translations and commentaries

Translation of biblical texts (i.e. the translation of the Septuagint of Isaiah by Alain Le Boulluec and Philippe Le Moigne Vision que vit Isaïe) and editing of medieval biblical commentaries are in the centre of this group’s research.

| History of exegesis and commentary practice

Gilbert Dahan organize since 2012 workshops on Biblical Exegesis (one in november, one in april) on Ancient and New Testament. The principe is to involve specialists in retracing the history of the exesis of verses or pericopes of the Bible. After a review of the present exegesis, are studied the exegeses of the patristic period (with the participation of members of this research group), the Middel Ages, the 16th and 17th centuries and, for the Old Testament texts, Jewish exegesis.
 International conferences have been organized around this theme: "Christian Hebraists in France in the 16th century/ Les hébraïsants chrétiens en France au XVIe siècle", "Exegesis, Revelation and the Formation of Dogmas in Late Antiquity/Exégèse, révélation et formation des dogmes dans l’Antiquité tardive", "Philip the Chancellor/Philippe le Chancelier", "The Bible from 1500 to 1535/La Bible de 1500 à 1535 »", « Mise(s) en œuvre(s) des Écritures ».


Edition and commentaries on Augustine’writings are published in the "Bibliothèque augustinienne" and in the "Collection des Études Augustiniennes of the Institut des études augustiniennes.
Research into the posterity of Augustine’s writings is reflected in the establishment of the scholarly and bilingual edition of the first volume of the Augustinus of Jansénius under the direction of Simon Icard.


The study of controversies has from the outset been a structuring axis of research in the LEM: one need only cite the works of Alain Le Boulluec or Michel Tardieu. The investigation continues on a double level, philological, on the one hand, with commented editions of major sources and, on the other hand, historical, with an ever broader apprehension of the structures of controversy in Late Antiquity. In the case of Christianity, it is a question of fully upholding a definition of Christian identity, affirmed from the turn of the 2nd to the 3rd c., in the form of a rejection of the trilogy: pagans/Jews/Heretics.

| Pagans and Christians

In the Latin field as in the Greek field, controversies with the pagans will be the subject of editions and annotated translations. Laetitia Ciccolini is currently working on the edition of Ps. Cyprian’s Quod idola dii non sint, for the collection "Corpus Christianorum series Latina" (Brepols). M.-O. Boulnois is carrying on her annotated translation of Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum (in the collection "Sources chrétiennes"), based on the Greek edition of W. Kinzig and Th. Brüggemann (GCS NF 21). Volume II (books III-V) was published in 2017. Three other volumes are planned, including books VI-VII, VIII-IX and X and Greek and Syriac fragments.

| Orthodoxy and heterodoxy

The following editions are in progress:
 Edition and annotated translation of the Stromata III of Clement of Alexandria by A. Le Boulluec and P. Descourtieux, for the collection of "Sources chrétiennes" (Éditions du Cerf). This writing is considered as a testimony of all the debates about marriage (with the Gnostics, with the disciples of Marcion and with the supporters of an extreme asceticism, the "encratites"), at the turn of the 2nd and 3rd c.

 M.-Y. Perrin, in collaboration with P. Descourtieux, is working on the edition of the Fragmenta historica of Hilaire of Poitiers, for the collection of "Sources chrétiennes" (Éditions du Cerf), an essential source for the history of the arian crisis in the 4th c., since this fragmentary work of controversy quotes in full conciliar or epistolary documents not otherwise preserved.

| History of Byzantine Theology

The sum of Roman law, the Justinian Code, was composed under the authority of Emperor Justinian. He was also, what is less known, the author of theological writings. A complete presentation of these writings (circumstances, content, effects) is provided by A. Le Boulluec in La Théologie byzantine et sa tradition (ed. C. G. Conticello), Turnhout, Brepols, 2016.


| Asceticism and monasticism

Two notable texts defining models of holiness in Western spirituality have been edited:
 the De habitu uirginum of Cyprian of Carthage, a small treatise on ecclesiastical discipline addressed to the virgins of Carthage, which was well-known in monastic circles. The edition of this text will be continued, with an important section on its reception in Late Antiquity and in medieval period;
 the first three books of the Life of Saint Martin Paulin de Périgueux (5th c.) wrote in the style of an epic poem the biography of the man presented by Sulpice Sévère as a martyr sine cruore. The annotated translation of books IV-VI will be edited by Vincent Zarini (in the collection "Sources chrétiennes").

| History and historiography

The use and writing of history is a structuring element in the Christian context. Fundamental sources are commented and studied here, from Eusebius of Caesarea (an annotated translation of the Historia ecclesiastica of Eusebius of Caesarea provided by M.Y. Perrin and L. Ciccolini) to Gregory of Tours (a bilingual edition of the first two books of Miracles of Saint Martin by Sylvie Labarre). The work of Corippe is a major contribution to the history of North Africa in the 6th century : Vincent Zarini and two associate members (B. Goldlust and Fr. Ploton-Nicollet) are working on an annotated translation of Corippe’s Johannide for the Collection des Universités de France (Les Belles Lettres).

 Michel-Yves Perrin is carryng a project on the Christianisation in Late Antiquity and High Middle Ages: the role and function of sermons and the genesis and diffusion of the Letter that fell from heaven on Sunday

| Ancient culture and Christian culture

 This Research group is currently working on the history of the transmission of philosophical reflections, literary knowledge and poetic and rhetorical savoir-faire, and the possible conversion of classical literature by Christian authors. This give rise to articles, workshops and conferences (for example "Effets de voix dans l’Antiquité").


In the prestigious collection "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade", the book Premiers écrits chrétiens (Paris, Gallimard, 2016, LXVI + 1579 p.) has been published under the joint direction of B. Pouderon, J.-M. Salamito and V. Zarini (with the collaboration of several members of the LEM); it contains annotated translations, critical editions and commentaries (based on manuscript variants), of Greek and Latin Christian texts from the first two centuries.
An anthology of Greek, Latin and Syriac theologians of the first five centuries was published: Anthologie des théologiens de l’Antiquité, directed by Alain Le Boulluec and Éric Junod (Paris, Editions du Cerf, 2016).


Since 2002, the Institut d’études augustiniennes has been a component of the LEM as a Sorbonne University. It is dedicated to the editing and translation of Augustine’s work in the collection "Bibliothèque augustinienne", the publication in the "Collection des études augustiniennes", two periodicals – the Revue d’études augustiniennes et patristiques and the Recherches augustiniennes et patristiques – and more generally to the history of patristics.

Postscript :



Gilbert Dahan
La Bible chrétienne au Moyen Âge

Alain Le Boulluec
Regards sur les hérésies

Pierre Descotes
À quoi bon lire saint Augustin ?

Isabelle Bochet
Une approche philosophique
de saint Augustin

Simon Icard
Des controverses sur la Grâce